Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Getting Ready....

It has recently been sneaking upon me that Lent begins in a week. Hmm.....how did this happen? Weren't we just celebrating Christmas?

Anyway, I was talking with the kids here in one of our religion classes about the different Eucharistic prayers and how they have many different prefaces to them that can be used for basically any day of the Liturgical Year.

It struck me that one of them for Lent used these words, "Lord, you have given us this joyful season." Now, most people wouldn't put the words "joyful" and "Lent" in the same sentence. Isn't Lent supposed to be about pain and suffering? aren't we supposed to be miserable for 40 days or something like that?

I guess that is popular sentiment, that we are supposed to go without and suffer for the 40 days preceeding Easter, but somehow, when I look at the life of Jesus, it doesn't add up. He suffered immensely, was misunderstood, ridiculed, ignored; all the while taking our sin upon him, and He was never miserable. He wasn't depressed. He didn't feel sorry for Himself (although of all people, He could have). So He is telling us something.

As Christians, we don't suffer just to suffer. We die to things in order to rise again. When we die to our selfishness and self-centeredness and our need to be liked by everyone, we can rise and live like Christ.

Lent helps us rid ourselves of these blights that really disguise who we were created to be. That's why it's joyful. It's joyful because God loves us so much that He would take care to prune us and help us grow. Everything in our life in providential. It's all allowed with one goal:eternal life with Christ. Often we can't see the good in a situation but God allows things with eternity in mind. So we know that through it all, He is with us. Always has been, always will be.

So, maybe this Lent, try thanking God more often. Try to see the good in people instead of judging them. Put on the mind of Christ, who suffered for us, with joy, out of His great and tender love for us.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Why I love the Olympics....(ok, sports in general)

Ok, so I am sure you have watched some the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. Some people say it is boring and find the evening coverage canned and too condensed. Other people are following it avidly and wish there were more hours to watch.

I have seen some of it but let me tell you about the turning point for me when it comes to being a fan. Did you see the pairs figure skating final? There was a young Chinese couple that skated last that evening, hoping to skate well enough to win gold. They were going to be the first pair to ever perform some sort of quadruple rotation in the air (okay, so I don't know the correct terminology, but he was going to throw her into the air and she was going to spin around 4 times and land). So, 38 seconds in the program they prepare, and he tosses her (well, I have never seen anyone being tossed like that, the guy literally threw everything he had into this toss) and she spins 4 times.....and comes down.......missing the landing and crashing down with one leg in the splits and the other knee bent backwards......and then she slid into the mats on the side of the rink. It was devastating. The music stopped and the crowd was silent.

Her partner helped her up but she doubled over in pain and tried to skate over the side of the rink where her coach was. Looking at her, I thought that there was no way she would make it off of the rink. But slowly, and still doubled over, she skated over to her coach.

The officials said that the couple had 2 minutes to decide what they were going to do. If they left the routine, there would be no medal at all. But what else could they do? The woman talked with her coach, crying into a kleenex, as a murmur went through the crowd.

Then.....she put her kleenex down, said one last thing to the coach and SKATED BACK OUT ONTO THE ICE TO FINISH THE ROUTINE. It was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my sports history. It was incredible. They picked up where they left off and WON A SILVER MEDAL. Simply extraordinary.

These athletes put their bodies through tremendous stress and discipline in order to become elite in their sport. They deny themselves all sorts of things in order to excel. There are many things they have to say "no" to because it wouldn't help them toward their goal.

And they do it. Not always easily, but they do it, keeping their eyes on their goal.

If the average person put even half that amount of effort toward the goal of becoming holy (becoming like Jesus), they would be saints in no time.

St. Paul said, "run so as to win." Athletes run a race to win, and so should we. We should live our lives with the goal of completing the work that God has for us here on earth and then being with him, being happy, for all eternity.

But many people neglect that race, the most important race of all.

Crowns and honor and poularity fades. The person who is famous today will be forgotten by the world tomorrow. And yet we spend so much time persuing that which fades and has no value in eternity.

I love that idea in sports, that reality of pushing yourself to see what you can do, to see what you are made of. You work with other teammates to accomplish a goal, you sacrifice your own desires for the good of the team.

What if we took those principles and applied them to our path to holiness, to true happiness?

We'd be saints, by the grace of God, in no time.

(Go Apolo!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Feb 14th

Happy St. Valentine's Day to everyone!
Hope this day is a celebration of true love and that it reminds you of the love that Jesus has for you.
So, do something kind for someone today...maybe even for someone you aren't too fond of.....

God bless you! :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dedicated Love......

So we went to this archdiocesan dinner this evening for all of the sisters in our archdiocese. Every year the Archbishop puts on this dinner in appreciation for the sisters and their contribution to the diocese and world at large.

It was a very interesting evening. We arrived a bit late (my fault) and were greeted by several sisters as we walked in, looking for a place to sit among the 150 sisters that were present. We made our way to the far side and took our seats with 4 other sisters from different communites.

Now, the age range at our table was from 25 to about, oh.....75 or so. 2 sisters at the table were novices and 2 were retired. As I sat there listening and answering questions, it occurred to me how beautiful dedicated love is.

Whenever I walked through the room during the evening, I saw sea of different women. Some wore habits, some wore long skirts, some had bright jackets on. Some of them were animatedly talking with the others at their table, some were silent while tranquilly enjoying their dinner. Many were older, having spent upward of 40 years in service of God through the diocese.

But what was more than the exterior of these diverse women was the bold fact of their lives. No matter what work they are participating in now, no matter what classes they are taking or whatever else they are actively engaged in, these women have dedicated themselves to Christ.

These women made a life-long (and into eternity) commitment to serve God and His people. These women have seen joy, sorrow, struggle, hope, sadness, glory and life. They have seen life.

There was just something so amazing about that. I hope that one day I get to ponder my life when I have been His Spouse for 50 years already. What an immense amount of wisdom and kindess there was in that room. And it was so inspiring.

There was such a beauty in that room this evening. There wasn't any make-up or high fashion or the "perfection of youth" that the world finds so attractive and seeks to attain and preserve at any cost. What was in that room was the beauty of dedicated love. It was the beauty of every individual taking their life, the greatest gift from God, and giving it back to Him. In good times and in bad. In sickness and in health. Totally His.

That kind of beauty, the beauty found in that simple and humble offering is something that the world cannot touch. It has eternal power and never fades. It transcends culture and age. Well, after all, I guess it should.

Love never fails.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Thought you might like this...

Feb. 2nd was the 10th Day of Consecrated Life, taken from the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. The Mass prayed that day by the Holy Father in Rome is totally amazing. We went several times while I was in Rome and it was so inspiring to see thousands of religious from all over the world, holding candles, that signify Christ's light to the world that they have dedicated themselves to sharing. Very cool. You can read about it here

Also Pope Benedict's Prayer Intentions for February

Have a blessed weekend! Say an extra prayer for religious all over the world, we need all the help we can get!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

God is love

Want to read the Pope's Encyclical but don't know where to buy it?
Read it here!
(thanks to Michael C. for finding it online for me)

Love your enemies...pray for those who persecute you

I have heard this reading many times, where Jesus advises us not to hate those who hate us but to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Not easy. I remember one time someone was talking with our founder and this person said, "well, we can love people but we don't have to like them." To which our founder, Fr. Jim, replied, "Have you ever heard of someone that Jesus didn't like?"

Good point.

In this month, "dedicated to love", lol, it occured to me how often we throw around the word "love" but don't really mean it. I sometimes say it myself, "oh I love coffee" or "I love that song" etc. But, to continue my thoughts from yesterday, our love is tested and revealed when we sacrifice. I remember seeing this movie (more like a mini-series) about this young man and woman. The young man wanted to be a priest while the young woman secretly hoped he would marry her instead. However, as the story went on and they enountered various difficulties, their love for each other grew and matured until, at the very end, they sacrificed for each other to do what was right. He became a priest and offered to God his own life (because the young woman was very sick) and she offered the young man back to God because she knew he was chosen by God to become a priest. Now, some of it was really cheesy, but I was struck by some of the dialogue in which the woman praying to God, thanked Him for creating this young man and allowing him to come into her life and the young man's prayer to God thanking Him for showing His love through his friend. We find that the truest love is devoid of selfishness and self interest.

Personally, I think one of the reasons why loving enemies is so hard is because of our own woundedness and self-centeredness. We see in the saints the ability to look past their own injury incurred, to the welfare of the one inflicting the injury. They used the gift of their will (and could look beyond their own initial emotions) to love. They could see that the people inflicting this pain were in need of help themselves and were able to say with Jesus, "Forgive them Father, they know not what they do."

Some people look at that and say, "impossible."But what most people don't understand is that saints didn't start out like that. And even as saints became saints, their wills and emotions didn't always meet. It probably was not much fun initially to go out and serve people who were openly persecuting them, but they could look past themselves and do things out of love for God. God gives us enough grace everyday to become saints. It starts out small. He gives us little opportunities everyday to do good, to serve, to bring kindness. When He sees us taking advantage of these little things, He will give us bigger things. The path to holiness (becoming one with God) is just like any other school. We are given beginner lessons and then if we grow we move on to more advanced lessons, and we grow deeper and deeper into the heart of Jesus.

People who really live the Gospel, and I mean REALLY live it and not just talk about it, are happy. They are joyful because they live the life that Jesus lived. They love because of God, in God and through God. And He is happy.